Front load vs top load washer

Zoe52July 8, 2007

Just thought I would see what most of you own and if you prefer one over the other. Please explain why you prefer the one you have.

I currently own a top loading machine and will be buying a new set of laundry machines for a new build. I am currently researching my options. I prefer the side by side rather than stacks.

With my top loader, I often throw a few extra things that I forgot in while it is washing. Can you do this in a front load after it starts running?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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Umm, you're new here, aren't you? :-) There are a few threads on the TL/FL "controversy" a little further down this page and tons of postings in this forum on why people have purchased the make and model of washer/dryer they did. Go get a cup of coffee or your favorite soft drink and read a few pages of the conversations in this forum. You'll likely get your questions answered, and if there are questions for which you didn't find answers in several pages of posts, then ask away!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 6:39PM
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Yes, you can add clothes up to the point that the FL starts to spin/empty the wash cycle. You will be able to unlock the door up to that point. After that, the lock is ON until the final spin is completed.

My first washer was a W/D combo (so of course FL). It was great until new baby meant we needed greater capacity. Then I had TLs for 30+ years. Six years ago we built a new home and I bought a $600 Frigidaire FL. Wash was cleaner immediately. That washer died last month and I replaced it with same, amazingly at the same price! If the new FL lasts another six years, I'm pretty happy spending only $100 per year on a washer.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 11:44AM
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I think my clothes are cleaner too since I got my Frigidaire FL too. they seem to last better too. in mine I can pause the cycle and add things up until the last few minutes of the wash on most programs.the door does lock but pausing unlocks it if that it will where the washer is in the program. in the delicate, hand wash and bulky items programs mine will not let you pause and open the door once it has filled because those use a higher water level, you can actually see the water level above the bottom of the window, so if you could open it you would cause a flood. my washer is very quiet and you would not know it was running at all until the spin.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 1:34PM
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I had top loaders for years and got front loaders when we built this house (about 18 months ago). People say they clean better, but I don't have kids and don't get especially dirty, so it's hard to compare. The clothes get clean, that I know. The biggest difference is that my clothes seem to last longer. I think the front loader toss method seems to beat them up less.

Also, front loaders use a LOT less water, which saves money.

Since you are building new, make sure you allow enough space for front loaders even if you decide to go with toploaders for now. I have a few friends who later went with front loaders and they can't close the laundry closet doors. Front loaders are a lot deeper front to back.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 1:40PM
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chisue is just partially right about the ability to add clothes later during a cycle. She has a FL without a heater and maybe that one allows clothes being added anytime before the spin cycle. But even if it is possible, it is probably not a good idea to add a garment late in a cycle. FLs do at least two rinse cycles, so if you add something late in the cycle you may just hit the rinse cycles without any detergent. That is not a good way to get anything clean.
FLs with the internal heater have to lock the door when the water is heated up to high temperatures. It would not be save to open the door during a 150 degrees or more sanitary cycle. Most FLs lock the door around 7 minutes or so after you start the washer. I don't really see why that would be a problem though. If something can't be added to the current wash I would just add it the next time. No big deal. I know you can add things to a TL at any time, but I wouldn't recommend that after more than 5 minutes either. The wash cycle is so short anyway and I don't think things would get clean if you make it even shorter.

I would always prefer a FL over a TL, but there are some things you'll have to consider.

1. Vibration problems:
Is your laundry area on a first floor over concrete? If not, a FL may or may not cause excessive vibration. It is very hard to make any predictions about that.

2. Cycle times:
I have read some reviews of people who were very upset that FLs have longer cycle times. An average cycle without any additional options usually takes at least an hour. Extra rinses, bleach cycles and high temperature settings add to this time. A sanitary cycle with bleach and extra rinse may take over two hours depending on the kind of washer.

3. Gentleness
FLs are usually a lot gentler on clothes than TLs with agitator. Some people complain about excessive wrinkling due to the higher spin speed though. I haven't experienced that, but you always have the option of manually choosing a lower spin speed. I have had clothes wrapped around the agitator of a TL before and that can easily tear up things or get them out of shape.

IMHO a good FL cleans better than any of the cheap TLs, I don't have any personal experience with fancier TLs. The longer cycle time is partially offset by a shorter drying time. That way you don't have to wait on the dryer when your clothes come out of the washer. The good cleaning results are worth the extra time and you also save a lot of water and energy.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 1:46PM
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Kids or not, I noticed that my whites (socks, underwear and t-shirts) got cleaner from the very first wash in my front loader (both old TL and new FL are Whirlpool). Even older whites that were dingy got brighter. In the old TL, we used Tide powder and a ton of Clorox bleach, in the new FL, we use half the manufacturer recommended amount of detergent (we use Tide HE powder) and no bleach at all.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 1:46PM
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Thank you for all your responses. I think I will look a bit more into the FL machine. I assume the flooring in our new home will be wood. I doubt I would use the longer washes... 2 hours YIKES! but having the clothes come out dryer and cleaner and with less abuse would be nice.

Oh as for vibration. My current top load is on the second floor and we do feel the vibrations in our bed when it spins. I try not to do too many loads when we are going to bed. It can feel like the old vibrating beds in the hotels.. or at least not a very good one! LOL

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 5:01PM
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I've never understood why longer wash cycles are considered (by some, at least) to be such an insurmountable huge problem. These are automatic appliances (both TL and FL), so you don't have to do all the wash on one day. Nor do you need to stand by and tend the machine while it washes.

Great-grandma did all the wash on one day with her wringer washer because that made the most sense. It was the most economical way -- to fill the washer once with very hot soapy water and cycle through all the laundry (whites first, other garments as the wash water cooled), drain the washer, fill with rinse water, rinse all the laundry. Great-great-grandma was probably boiling clothes on the stove -- a person certainly wanted to get *that* process finished in one day.

With automatic washers, you can do one or two loads a day. Certainly most of us have something else we can do for two hours while a super-duper hot wash is being performed? Make and eat dinner? Watch a movie on TV?

I love my rather simple FridGEmore FL, even without an internal heater or the fancy bells and whistles of other FL machines. I'll never buy a TL again. Regarding FL vibration: I'm aware of when my FL is in a spin cycle, I do feel some slight vibrations, but I don't consider it a problem. During the actual wash and rinse cycles, it's very quiet, no vibrations. My old TL was NOT noise-free or vibration-free either; made lots of noise and vibrations through the entire cycle.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 5:36PM
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I guess my problem with having the machine run so long is the energy waste. We will be building an active solar home and I would prefer not to use so much of my energy on washing clothes.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 6:11PM
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zoe52, the multi/variable-speed motors in modern frontloaders are typically more efficient than electric motor designs in the past. Long cycle times don't have an impact on that point.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 6:57PM
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zoe52, if you are building an eco-friendly home you should definitely try to go with a FL. They are more energy and water efficient than even the new HE TLs. Dadoes is right, a longer cycle time doesn't increase the electricity usage other than the amount needed for heating up the water internally to the desired temperature. A FL uses a lot less water so you can afford doing a real hot wash every now and then.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 7:32PM
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I switched about 1 year ago to the fl machine... it takes a bit to get use to the idea of 1 hour plus for washing... but once you get use to the machine and the hows and whys of the various cycles, they are very nice...

Those long 2+ hour sanitary loads??? I do those tight befor going to bed.... mind you the washer is no more than 8 feet from my head when I sleep (through 2 walls and a hall away...) and it has never disturbed myself of DH... or the 8 YO who is about 15 ft away in the opposite direction...

BUT do be sure to make sure the machine is level... and don't count on the installers to do it... at least not willingly... I found it easier to just doit ourselfs after they left....

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 8:19PM
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If you are having a vibration problem with your TLer, that might be a bad sign for a FLer. TLer by nature are much less likely to cause vibration problems than FLers. There is an excellent explanation somewhere on this site about the differences in forces that cause the vibration problems, maybe someone can remember where it is posted? Simply put, as I understand it, most of the force from the TLer that spins vertically goes out horizontally to the floor, whereas the forces from the FLer that spins horizontally go out vertically, or right into the floor. This can cause vibration problems with floors that are not stable. I had a serious vibration with my shortly owned FLer. It was on the first floor and actually made the pots rattle on the stove. I could feel the vibrations in my bedroom - on the second floor! I replaced it with a Cabrio HE, no vibration problems. The only time I ever had a problem with my old Kenmore washer is when it off balanced so bad that it bounced off the wall! The Cabrio has never done that - yet. Make sure anyplace you purchase your machine will let you exchange it if you are not happy with it, not only if it is broken. I do not own the matching dryer so I cannot comment on it. By the way, The Cabrio HE lid does lock, but you can hit pause to unlock it then hit start to restart the cycle where you left off. Good Luck! I hope you enjoy your new house, and appliances!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 8:47PM
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Well, it appears I'll be the odd man out, but I have the GE Harmony, a TL without the traditional agitator, and I wouldn't trade it for the most expensive FL you could find. It doesn't use a lot of water but you have the option of filling it up, you can add the occasional forgotten item anytime, my clothes come out practically dry but don't wrinkle in the dryer, no mildew or odor problems, wash times are considerably less than the FL and it holds just as much clothing. I could go on and on. Don't rule out the HE TL's, they have a lot to offer without the problems many FL owners seem to complain about.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:42PM
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In regard to the longer wash times, my Duet FL (9300) holds nearly twice as much as my old Whirlpool Super Capacity washer, yet does a Normal/Casual wash in 40 minutes (single rinse). So it's actually saving me time vs. taking longer...doing double the wash in the same amount of time.

And the same load goes in to my Duet dryer (9250) and dries in about 34 minutes...far less than my old dryer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:54PM
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The whirlpool super capacity washers must not be that big. Isn't the Duet 9300 a 3.8 CF? That is the same as the Bosch I had. My old Kenmore super capacity plus held 6 extra large , heavy towels. The Bosch held eight of these towels, not anywhere near double. The Cabrio HE holds twelve of these towels, plus hand towels and washcloths. I love how much it holds. I have gone from doing about 15 loads of laundry a week to about 7 loads per week! The cycles are about the same time as my old Kenmore, and cloths dry really fast. The one nice thing about the FLer when I had it was that I never had to wait for the dryer to finish to switch loads, instead I had to wait for the washer to finish. I guess at least then I could fold the laundry while I waited.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 4:15PM
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Think I'll try plumbly22's strategy of washing tight before bed. Hee-hee! Love these typos!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 5:59PM
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My Whirlpool "Super Capacity" didn't hold much...maybe a load of queen sized sheets and a hand towels. I can actually do my queen sized sheets, the queen duvet, and a load of twin sized sheets in my Duet...and yes, the 9300 is 3.8 cf. My first and foremost reason for the Duet was that I can wash my queen size down-alternative comforter without issue. And it dries in 1/2 the time without all the rearranged required in my old machines.

I couldn't even wash a twin comforter in the Whirlpool shredded 3 of my son's comforters.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 8:41AM
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That was one of the reasons I wanted a FLer, our king size bedding just barely fit in my old Kenmore, and I had to stop it before the spin to redistribute the load so it would not off balance my machine. Unfortunately, the blankets did not fit much better in the FLer, and they still off-balanced the machine! Ugh! The Cabrio handles them easily, the only thing I know I have to redistribute in the Cabrio are pillows. Everyone has a different pillow, and they all absorb different amounts of water (this has been a problem with every machine). With the Cabrio, I stop it before the spin, lay the pillows crosswise over the wash plate, and it is good to go. Now I only have problems when I do something stupid, like the time I washed a fluffy down alternative filled blanket with an acrylic throw, silly! I do love how fast these new washer allow cloths to dry. My blankets are especially nice. Some of them used to take 4 or 5 hours to dry with my old Kenmore washer. With the Cabrio washer, most of them dry in 1 or 2 hours! And yes, I only have to rearrange the largest one in the dryer, and only one time instead of four times! And to be honest, I usually use low spin on the blankets!
I hope your sons weren't too sad about their comforters, mine still uses the one he got when he was five, he is 17 now.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 11:24AM
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The ones that were ruined were actually twin comforters from his bed. My son is now 5 and still sleeps with the same baby comforter he had from the day he came home from the hospital, a snoopy crib comforter. Its starting to shred on one end, but when he started daycare at 2 1/2, I found the same snoopy comforter on Ebay and purchased a duplicate so he didn't have to take the original to school. I would be more crushed than him I think if the original was ruined...I wash it on delicate...just to be safe.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 3:27PM
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I have a frontloader without an onboard heater and I cannot pause the wash cycle to add clothes if the washer is on a hot water cycle. I can for warm and cold, just not hot. That is my biggest complaint about my frontloader. Other than that, I am very pleased.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 12:08PM
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I've been reading the thread about TLs v. FLs. and think I will be going towards the FL. Now....brand decisions. I'm considering the Whirlpool Duet Sport and the LG Tromm. Are there any others I should consider? I want to pay as little as possible for the best quality? Any recommendations?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 9:40PM
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I have a Maytag Neptune washer and dryer. Purchased in May 1999. Have had no problems whatsoever. I am very happy with the purchase. On my Neptune, you can add clothing one of two ways. One...before the door locks (which is approximately two minutes after you push start); and two....after door is locked, push stop, wait two minutes for door to unlock.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 7:23AM
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Just a comment on the long wash times, particularly with the "sanitize cycle" which can take almost two hours. I don't worry about that, because I make use of my washer's time-set function. So I put the clothes in before I go to bed, knowing that I want the wash done by 7:00 AM the next morning. I set it to start washing at about 5:00 AM. That way, the load is done in the morning. I would be concerned that if I put the clothes in and started the machine before I went to bed, and then the damp clothes sat in the machine until the morning, there might be a mustiness problem. I really love my front loader.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:46PM
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I am so very happy to have an old-school top loader again. My front loader finally bit the dust and we didn't even bother to try to have it fixed. It was here in the house when we moved in - we're kicking ourselves for paying extra to keep the set, we should have installed our old ones - and these were awful from day one.

The first pain was the kamikaze clothing that leapt out from both washer and dryer when the door opened or you pulled something big out. It sucks that something you've just washed has to wait to get cleaned again. Plus, with a bad back, I didn't like bending down so far.

It is infuriating that you need to spend extra money on those pedestals to raise them up, and laundry baskets won't fit under either door without them, so, again, when the door opens, things can hit the floor, which is horrible. The machines come out of the box with this huge flaw and you need to spend $150.00 minimum to make them work as they should. They should just be taller from the outset.

Also, I like pulling things up out of the washer and then putting them straight into the dryer without having clean wet clothes go into a basket that has previously had dirty clothes in it.

Then came the smell. Now it's possible that the previous owner pre-fouled the thing, but that gasket? Where water ALWAYS was? Yak. Mold city. No amount of bleach and cleaning would keep this thing clean.

My clothing is now much cleaner after just a week of having a top loader again. I'm very sensitive to detergent left in fabrics, and mine are once again clean and my towels are far more absorbent.

It's possible that a new machine, for way more money than I just paid for my new GE top loader, might be better, but we didn't want to spend that much and are happy to have the old style machine back.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 9:19AM
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Oh - PS - the new top loader door does not lock at all. It has a magnetic sensor that stops the agitator or the spin cycle when you open it. Also, and this is very cool, you can re-set the cycle at any point to adjust to circumstances. Want to make it go through a bit of a rinse, but not ALL the way through a whole rinse cycle? Couldn't do that with the old front-loading machine, but you can control every step in the process with this one.

One contender for the title of Worst Thing about the front loader was that depending on where it was in it's cycle, if you stopped it, it could take SEVERAL MINUTES - as much as 5 - to unlock, even after you gave it the stop command. You were just standing there waiting for the machine to give you your clothing. This does not sound like that much of a deal, but let me tell you, when circumstances change and you're suddenly in a hurry and want to get something out of there, it's really aggravating to have the washing machine holding you up. Even unplugging it didn't help.

And the final thing . . . what finally broke on ours was an electronic part. With the simpler machines, either one of us can crack it upon and replace any part. Not so with the newer ones, you're at the mercy of the repair folks.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 9:29AM
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